Thursday, December 3, 2015

Fun Tools in Google Docs

When you open a new document in Google Drive, you will see it is set up similarly to a Microsoft Word document.  It will have most of the same bells and whistles you are used to, and some that you will wonder how you completed your work before.

The Research tool allows you to open a search bar with the Drive workspace.  Then you can search for relevant research topics and copy and paste links into your document.
If you would like a more readable link to these
Research tips, click HERE!
Voice Typing
For a more readable version of these
Voice Typing tips, click HERE!

Voice recognition used to be an add-on in docs, but now it is a built-in function.  Note, if you are planning to use it in a noisy setting like a classroom, then using a noise cancelling headset microphone will improve access to the tool.

Google Docs Editor Help provides a few quick reference tips and voice commands.

Add-ons are features in Google Docs that can help you perform task in the document on which you are working.  They will not carryover into a web program like extensions, but can support the reading and writing process.

An Add-On I recently learned about has been available for quite a while: Easy Bib.  Had I known about this a few weeks prior, I would have had a much easier time completing my research project.  

So now that you have a few more tools for your digital tool box, try them out and let me know what you think.  Up next, more apps and extensions as educational and/or assistive technology.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Let's Go Take a [Google] Drive....

I have found a great beginners Google Drive Tutorial posted by Anson Alexander.  Rather than recreate the wheel, I embedded the video. It is close captioned as well.  What I really like is how he goes step by step introducing each part of Drive.    

Some organizational highlights I would reiterate:
1. Name your documents as soon as you start.  Getting into this great organizational habit will help you not end up with a variety of Untitled documents in your Drive.

2. Create folders.  Something he doesn't show you is that you can change the color of the folders.  Though he says he generally doesn't use folders personally, creating folders helps provide a visual sorting system that you can customize to match the colors of a student's color coding system that he or she already uses.  But note, the color features do not carryover to mobile device.   Just right click on the folder icon and select Change Color.

3. Star your frequently used or important documents.  Like favoriting a website, starring a file will allow you to quickly locate a document.

4. Delete things you no longer use or need.  If you Trash an item, it will only stay in the trash for 30 days. So be sure that you no longer need or want it.

Up next, Add Ons, Extensions and Apps- How to customize your experience and differentiate for learners of different abilities.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Why Chrome Might Add Bling To Your Educational Experience...

For over the past year now, I have heard so much hype about incorporating Google Chrome into the educational process.  Now that I have gathered a ton of information, completed some trials and tribulations, I wanted to share what I have learned so you can decide for yourself if Chrome will be your new accessory.

Google Chrome is a web browser.  Just like Safari.  You can download it for free onto your Mac or PC; you can have it automatically as your internet platform on a Chromebook.  You can even download it onto your iOS devices (but I’ll get into usability on a later post).  But the magic occurs when you activate a gmail account.  Once you do that (whether it be a personal account or a google-based education account from a school), it opens up a plethora of supports.

So, I’ll wait while you do that….

Are you done downloading and installing your Chrome Web browser?  If you see a Red, Green, and Yellow donut encircling a blue dot, then you should be good.

Did you create your gmail account?
Good, now you can play.

First thing’s first.  I am going to describe a few basics.

This is your email account.  This is your user account.  This is what is attached to everything you do in Drive, the Chrome Store, Google Classroom and Google Sites.

Google Drive is a web based documentation forum that has a word processing section (Docs), an excel-like program (Sheets), a powerpoint-like program (Slides), and another section (Forms).  You can save documents in the happy cloud land.  And bonus, it saves automatically as you work.

Google Classroom.
If you work or are a student that uses google based accounts, then you may have access to setting up your very own Google Classroom.  This will not work if you do not have an email account ending in .edu.  If you are not sure, ask your local IT guy.

Chrome Web Store.
It’s not the Apple App store; but it is similar.  When you find the colorful 9 block icon that is labeled “Apps” (on my browser, it’s in the upper left hand corner) or just enter in the url, you will now have the ability to attach Apps and Extensions to your gmail user account.  This means, the apps and extensions you download can/will follow up wherever you log into a Chrome browser (except on iOS devices but I’ll get into that in a later post).  Most things are free, especially when it comes to education.

What’s an App?
Just like when you download an app from the Apple Store to your iOS device, an App from the Google Chrome Web Store will bring you to a website and you will be able to complete games or tasks within that app.

What’s the difference with an Extension?
Extensions are tools you can use to customize your user experience in any site you could be on.

Now this is only the beginning.  And I don’t want to blow your mind just yet.  What I do want you to do is play and explore.  Because there is a world of digital opportunity ready for the taking for anyone willing to try. Keep an eye out for upcoming posts and how-to sections to discover how Chrome's apps and extensions can help support different learning styles.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


Thoughts and Highlights from Assistive Technology Conference of New England 2015

Define "Reading"

I heard this in the last session I attended with Gaby Richard-Harrington who is an Instructional Technology Specialist in Western Massachusetts, and it stuck and resonated with me.  I remember at the beginning of the school year when my second grader brought home his weekly reading log, and I wondered to myself, well, does this count the Audio Books we read/listen to in the car? And I should have asked for clarification, but I didn't.  But now I wonder, WHY should I ask?  

Not being a reading specialist or a teacher, the WHY becomes evident.  You need to define READING.  Is the purpose for oral fluency?  Is it for the progression and speed of the left to right, bottom to top nature?  Is it to develop a love of listening to stories?  Is it for the social emotional aspect of reading with a parent or peer?  Is it for the comprehension of materials?  

Reading to me is not just the act of eyes and brain working together fluidly to decode and sound out characters.  I love reading.  I love stories.  I love learning.  But for someone who struggles with any of the above aspects, I doubt they LOVE it.  In fact, you ask a struggling reader and they probably say they HATE it.  And that is a strong word.  

So when assigning reading tasks, I challenge parents and educators to define clearly what is it that you are actually asking the student to do.  It is then I think that you can see what kinds of tools are out there to help them become engaged "readers".  

But first, just observe your reader(s).  Does the student/child rub his eyes a lot, squint, or get headaches?  Any of these should be red flagged and referred to an optometrist.  Can the child/student use his eyes together to scan across a page without jumping?  Do they have difficulty switching from the board to the book?  If acuity has been addressed, then maybe a referral to an Occupational Therapist or Development Ophthalmologist might be in order.  Is the student frequently reversing letters, missing letters or words, or just doesn't seem to be getting the whole picture?  Maybe screening for a learning disability may be in order with a Neuropsychologist.

And in the mean TIME of all of this, how is the child accessing his reading material???  Because, we know this ALL TAKES TIME!  So look at what you have available in the classroom, the district and the local library.  Perhaps providing the student/child with the audio version of the novel you are reading in class would be an easy option.  Do you have access to the digital format?  Using the built in options on the MAC or PC to use the text to speech options may help.  Does your district already have a site license for products like Read and Write Gold or Read and Write for Google?

I know this seems like a rant, but it is more of a challenge.  I challenge teachers, parents, and therapists to really LOOK at the student (or yourself even) and DEFINE READING.  It is only then you can begin to analyze how to really support the reader.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

SpOTLight On: The Assistive Technology Conference of New Enlgand

If you happen to be (or want to be) in the New England area at the end of November, you should consider registering for this year's Assistive Technology Conference of New England.  
Assistive Technology Conference of New England 2015 Logo
Hosted by Tech Access of RI, the Rhode Island ATAP affiliate with focus on educational supports, this year's conference has expanded to include a full day workshop option on Thursday November 19th as well as its comprehensive 24 session workshop day on Friday November 20th.  Click HERE for full listings!

I am proud to say that I have been part of the planning committee for the past two years and this year is especially awesome.  Between the expansion into a two day conference as well as the Bringing Access to Life Expo which features New England vendors, programs and agencies with special talents and abilities highlighting work and leisure, the ATCNE 2015 is sure to inspire you.  
Love Letters By Emily
Therapeutic Sailing
Purely Patrick
Kelly Charlebois, Director of Tech Access of Rhode Island, is "most excited about the diversity of the content of the program and the ability to offer full day, in-depth workshops!"

She should be because the list of presenters is awesome!  Can't make it to ATIA? Well, there will be at least three national presenters at this year's pre conference. Mike Marrotta, AT specialist at Inclusive Technology Solutions, will be presenting his Google Bootcamp.  Diana Petschauer and Alyssa Marinaccio will be addressing Apps across the Curriculum and Kelly Fonner will be discussing Successful Implementation of AAC Apps.  Professionals can also obtain continuing education credits certified by the AAC Institute.
I'm excited to go through Boot Camp this year with Mike Marotta, but I have seen both Diana's and Alyssa's presentations last year which helped me greatly develop an extensive repertoire of resources to use in daily practice.  I am sure you will be highly satisfied with anything in which you chose to participate.

As with years past, the conference will be hosted at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, located in Warwick, Rhode Island.  Accommodations and food have been excellent in the years that I have attended this conference.  You can attend either a single day or the two-day conference.  But tickets are selling out fast.  Make sure to reserve your spot and be a part of something great.  If you can't attend but want to support Tech Access and people with disabilities, check out the accessories designed in conjunction with Chubby Chico.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

September SpOT Light Series: Your Therapy Source

I close out the September SpOT Light Series: Discover the Therablogger with a seasoned Physical Therapist and her desire to keep herself and her readers up to date on current research and treatment ideas.  Today's SpOT Light shines the light onYour Therapy Source.

Margaret Rice received her Masters in Physical Therapy 21 years ago from Columbia University after obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Physical Education.  Your Therapy Source first started out strictly as a company in 2007, then established itself with a web presence one year later.  Your Therapy Source's blog is now in its sixth year of publication in which it "specializes in electronic documents for pediatric occupational and physical therapists. [YTS] publishes a FREE digital magazine monthly for pediatric OTs and PTs.  You can subscribe to our email list on our home page at"

On her blog, Margaret shares a variety of her favorite back to school tips.  10 Back to School Tips for School Based Therapists reiterates organizational keys to facilitate a successful year for everyone involved in the students' care.  And if you are looking for tangible therapeutic activities, who can resist items like free printables for the fall or 8 Print and Go Ideas for Indoor Recess?

But the biggest advice Margaret could share comes from her therapeutic 'ah-ha' moment.  "As a pediatric therapist, a 5 year old taught me my most important lesson (thankfully early in my career).  Let the child lead.  Internal drive is an amazing motivator in children.  I was there to support his goals as needed and modify the environment."

Letting the child lead sometimes gets lost along the way of access common core and testing.  But as so many of the therapists from the SpOT Light Series: Discover the Therabloggerlike Margaret, have shared personal stories and epiphanies that bring the focus back on the purpose of our existance: helping our clients (children, adults, whatever) access their life occupations.  So, if you haven't already checked out the 14 innovative authors, take the time to do so.  Inspiration just may be a click away.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

September SpOT Light Series: Kids Play Space

So I began the September SpOT Light Series in Australia and now after many adventures in the states, I head back to Aussie to aim the SpOT Light on Anna Meadows at Kids Play Space and her innate ability to see playfulness in the world around her.

Kids Play Space began, as most blogs, as diary of sorts during her maternity leave, featuring the childhood development of Anna's son.  (check out her son's Happy Feet for a good giggle). But as time passed, it became a Play Space of passion for sharing pediatric play.  Just recently celebrating it's 3 year 'blogiversary', Anna continues to spread the importance of play.

"It has truly become a labour of love! It is a place where my passions for OT, health promotion, child development and play collide! OT fights for accessibility, inclusivity and thriving in everyday ‘occupations’, working closely with individuals. In the world of health promotion, it’s all about striving for ‘health for all’. Finally, as play is children’s most important occupation, my motto over at Kids Play Space has become ‘play for all’, celebrating simple learning opportunities everyday, not just for our son, but for all children."

Now in Anna's 18th year of occupational therapy service, she reflects on the uniqueness of OT that allows us as practitioners to support through the life span. 

"I’ve been so fortunate to have practiced OT in so many different areas! I’ve worked in hospital, rehabilitation, and community settings, (including community centres, disability, early intervention services and special schools), with people from 0-100+ years old!"

In many of Anna's posts, she looks outside the box to incorporate the available items of her surroundings into daily play.  In Balance Beams in the Real World, Anna adapts the concept of Parkour  (urban play spaces) to benefit childhood development.  "Kids love seeking out and conquering balance obstacles naturally." 

In her Small Space Living Series, Anna reiterates that "you do NOT need a mansion, a separate play room, or a million toys, for rich play experiences. Children are very adaptable, and will learn to explore and interact with whatever space is at hand."

But it is Celebrating Boredom in Childhood that sticks out in Anna's head as a top therapeutic tip.  "Ensuring that [kids] have time to be bored, explore nature, problem solve with loose parts, interact with their friends is vitally important for school aged children. I guarantee these experiences will enrich their childhood, and make them more confident, capable students."

Kids Play Space provides a variety of strategies for caregivers and therapist to promote playful interactions with everyday items and activities   So if you are looking for a way to avoid "plastic fantastic", hop, skip and jump over to Australia's Kids Play Space, where Anna Meadows will make you look at your surroundings with a more playful eye.

Friday, September 25, 2015

September SpOT Light Series: Starfish Therapies

At Starfish Therapies, Physical Therapist Stacy Menz challenges herself to be the Star Thrower everyday by making a difference to children and their families one challenge at a time.   

"I often get a lot of questions about where I got my company name from and while its on my website I never get tired of the story.  Its from the Star Thrower story (by Loren Eiseley) and in it the tide is going out an an old man is walking down the beach littered with starfish.  He sees a young boy throwing the starfish back into the ocean.  When the old man asks the young boy why he is bothering because the starfish are going to die anyway, the boy looks at him, throws another one into the ocean, and says, ‘but I made a difference to that one.’  The story embodies why I do what I do and why I started my company and blogging."

Stacy has been a Physical Therapist for 15 years, after first receiving her Master's from Boston University followed by her transitional DPT there as well.  She has taken her passion for pediatrics and helping families understand complex topics and molded into her blogging for the past  6 1/2 years.
 "One of my favorite posts to write is ‘What does low tone mean’.  I had the idea after explaining it to many families and seeing them understand what it meant for their child to have low tone.  They were finally able to figure out how to explain it to their family members or friends.  Being able to take complex terms and simplify it for families is something I really enjoy."

Stacy also has enjoyed sharing activities for therapists and caregivers to play with their kids to improve fine and gross motor development, like Five Ways to Use Drinking Straws and Ideas for Squatting.  

Like many health professionals, Stacy reflects daily on the successes that she observes and how it reaffirms her therapeutic practice. "The other day, I was working with a kiddo in early intervention and he took his first independent steps.  Seeing his parents’ reactions to moments like this is such a boost.  Same as when any child hits a milestone or a big goal.  Those are the moments that remind me why I do what I do."

So be inspired to be your own Star Thrower and check out Starfish Therapies or contact Stacy directly at  Make a difference in at least one person's life today.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September SpOT Light Series: Pink Oatmeal

Physical Therapist Chanda Jothen didn't initially plan on writing about her experiences in pediatrics therapy services.  But since her Do It Yourself projects didn't pan out quite as she would have liked, Pink Oatmeal evolved into the fantastic resource it is today, a place for parents, teachers and therapists to find fun and functional movement-based activities.

profile picture Chanda Jothen
Pink Oatmeal isn't just a combination of her favorite color and food.  It is Chanda's outlet for combining her experiences as a mom and a physical therapist.  In 10 Baby Items You Don't Need, Chanda was candid about her point of view on "crotch danglers" and jumpers, to which I can totally relate and appreciate.  She found that ultimately her "laundry basket or diaper box were better options and far less money" in comparison to an exersaucer.  
I have to admit, I had every single one of the items she discussed.  And that's ok, because ultimately "moderation is key when it comes to baby equipment.  If there is a product that works for you just be careful not to overuse it or pass baby from product to product with little floor time or time to explore their environment. "

Now with baby number two on the way, you can expect Chanda to continue on writing about the blending of motherhood and physical therapy.  

Since it is the start of school, make sure to check out her recent post about incorporating movement stations into the daily classroom routine.  "[Movement Stations] are the perfect way to incorporate movement and brain breaks into the day.  They are one solution to making sure that student’s are getting movement in their day.  We know that research shows us that kids that move and are physically fit perform better in the classroom.  It is part of a natural flow in the classroom and it’s motivating for the students."

You download free and cost yoga cards, brain break cards and more at Chanda's Pink Oatmeal Teachers Pay Teachers store.  And of course, you can also contact her directly at  So if you happen to be hungry for marvelous movement activities, satisfy your appetite with Pink Oatmeal.

Monday, September 21, 2015

September SpOT Light Series: Dino PT

Maybe it's because we are both Beccas, or maybe because she also is a Therapy-a-saurus, but either way I could NOT not put the SpOT Light on Rebecca Talmud at Dino PT.
Dino PT is the brain child behind DPT Rebecca Talmud.  Rebecca received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from New York University and has been practicing pediatric PT for eight years.  Combining her comprehensive background in early intervention, school based service provision, center based provision, and adaptive sports and yoga for children with special needs, Rebecca has been excavating blog content for 5 years.  Her blogging supplements her practice as it was her "interest in evidence based treatment and educating fellow Pediatric professionals as well as families and caregivers of the children we treat" that inspired her to connect with people outside of the office.
Dino PT has covered a variety of topics from W Sitting , in which Rebecca provides a variety of alternative seating strategies to improve alignment and function, to pediatric gait analysis, in which she clearly and thoroughly reviews a variety of commonly seen gait abnormalities.  

I asked The Dino PT about her favorite Back to School Tip, and what she shared with me, I couldn't agree with more.  "A big back to school topic is shoe recommendations.  Consider your individual child and their needs prior to purchasing sneakers for the school year.  The right shoe can make all the difference!"  

Rebecca's passion for PT extends to the animal kingdom as well. The Talmuds adopted Daisy Duke, an French Bulldog with special needs.  "She was paralyzed from the waist down as a result of a back surgery and her owners could not care for her and her special needs.  Thanks to the amazing organization, French Bulldog Rescue Network (FBRN) and the great company Eddie’s Wheels (who fashioned her custom made wheels)..She has filled out lives with so much love and happiness each day.  She is quite skilled at maneuvering her rear wheel cart in any terrain and inside she uses her incredible upper body strength to pull herself around.  She is a great example to us all that with positivity, willpower and perseverance we are unstoppable!" 

So become a pediatric paleontologist and explore Dino PT to unearth more information or contact Rebecca directly via email at

"Every smile and every laugh from both the children and families I have worked with is stored in a vault that I keep with me always.  There is no greater pleasure than giving a child confidence, helping them to master a new skill and allowing them to take pride and experience joy in their journey!"

Saturday, September 19, 2015

September SpOT Light Series:Tools to Grow

Even though Patti Pooler and Shelly Galvin have been blogging for one year, they have enough content to share with their well-over-30-years of combined service to the field for years to come.

Tools to Grow is a membership-based website "unique to the field of Occupational Therapy."  Members have access to a variety of treatment and documentation resources and products.  But it is their blog, categorized by performance areas, that allows Patti and Shelley to share their passion for pediatric Occupational therapy with therapist, caregivers and students in an easy to access manner.  

"Most of our blogs focus on clinical issues that many pediatric Occupational Therapists encounter on a daily basis. We wanted to pair background clinical knowledge with a sampling of strategies, resources, and activities to address the difficulties so many of the children endure. We will continue to cover important topics related to direct treatment, assessment, consultation, and clinic management in the field of Occupational Therapy."

As part of their mission, Tools to Grow provides tools and strategies to therapists, teachers and caregivers to help children succeed.  They have addressed issues such as tummy time for infant and toddler development to improving executive functioning in maturing children.  But they also address the reality of service provision and how to organize and manage a caseload, which is useful for both new and established therapists.

"As Occupational Therapists, a system for tracking schedules, attendance, due dates, meetings, consults, screenings, progress reports, evaluations, and other caseload information is a necessity.  When an organizational system is in place, it improves accountability, increases productivity, and decreases time spent managing paperwork. Last, but not least, the therapist should experience much less stress! This allows time and energy for the most important aspect of our career, working with our clients/students!"

Thank you Shelly and Patti for sharing insight with parents and therapists to help children grow!  If you would like to connect and learn more about Tools to Grow Inc. you can shoot them an email at  

"We are so thankful to be a part of the Occupational Therapy profession. A career that allows us to impact the lives of many, and to be creative and client-centered on a daily basis. Occupational Therapy is a profession that is gratifying, challenging, and filled with countless opportunities to make a difference in the lives of our clients and families."  

Both Patricia Pooler and Shelley Galvin are New York State licensed Occupational Therapists. Patti received her Master's degree in Occupational Therapy from D'Youville College in Buffalo, New York, after first obtaining her Bachelor of Science Degree in Health Science from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. She currently works part-time in a public school with students in grades K-8 and has specialized training in the areas of Handwriting without Tears K–5, Executive Functioning Skills, and Vision Processing.  Shelley Galvin OTR/L, C/NDT has 34 years of experience as a New York State licensed Occupational Therapist with a specialty in pediatrics, sensory processing and certification in pediatric Neurodevelopmental Treatment.  She has provided her clinical expertise in home based early intervention, public and private school based services as well as early childhood management. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

September SpOT Light Series: OT Potential

Occupational Therapist Sarah Lyon is taking her pOTential and growing it exponentially.  
OT potential logo
Sarah authors OT Potential, a site that allows her to feed her hunger for writing.  "I started blogging as a way to connect with fellow occupational therapists. My first job out of school was as the only OT at a hospital in rural Nebraska. I relied heavily on my online community to ask questions and get support. At the time, there was a whole lot less written about OT and so I ended up starting my own blog. "  
Not only that, but she is also the Occupational Therapy Expert on "When the opportunity arose to head up the occupational therapy page on, I jumped on it. Breaking down medical jargon into straightforward, client-friendly information and advice is one of my passions." On both sites, Sarah provides quick reference guides for clients to navigate the world of OT like How to Find the Right Occupational Therapist and 8 Questions to Ask Your Occupational Therapist.

Sarah's experiences in a variety of hospital setting including trauma, in-patient psych and critical access, provides her with a unique perspective not often written about.  She provided a snap shot of A Day in the Life of an OT at a State Psychiatric Hospital on a guest post for OT Cafe during April 2015's OT Month.  

 "I ran a life-skills group for men who had been hospitalized for several years and were preparing to return to the community. Every other Friday we did a cooking group, which always constituted my favorite sessions. It was incredible to watch they use a skill set that had lay dormant for several years. Cooking brings out so much personality in people."

With only four years into the field after completing her Masters from NYU, this Trekie, polka and choral music enthusiast, and Agents of Shield fan is already making her OT pOTential known.
"I love that there are so many professionals willing to share their knowledge in the online sphere. There are great pediatric therapy bloggers out there that are certainly worth a follow!"

Want to reach out to Sarah? You can contact her at

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

September SpOT Light Series: Handwriting with Katherine

Handwriting With Katherine is where you can find all things related to handwriting from Occupational Therapist Katherine Collmer's point of view.  With 17 years of therapeutic experience ranging from psychiatric, neurologic, geriatrics and of course pediatrics, it is her expertise in Assessment and Remediation of Children’s Handwriting Development Skills that she shares with parents and therapists alike.

Profile Picture of Katherine Collmer
"I have been interested in writing since I was a teenager.  I still have the short stories that I scribed way back then.  Blogging, however, wasn’t even in my vision back in 2009 when this type of writing found a place in my life.  I was getting restless during a transition in my pediatrics career and a friend of mine suggested that with my interest in writing I should look into blogging.  She suggested that I contact the Advance Magazine online blog editor…and that’s where it all began!"

Katherine integrates research-based evidence into many of her posts, making them both useful and insightful.  For example, in a recent post titled Handwriting and Learning: A Vital Link to Skilled Writing, she reflects "Learning through the use of our hands continues to be a vital link for educational success throughout life, with handwriting playing a major role;" all the while, she incorporated ten references to support the idea.

Katherine is also a strong advocate for identifying visual deficits issues early since it is such a crucial element of handwriting.

Child sitting crookedly at a table.
"Sitting Posture Can Indicate Vision Concerns"
 "Every time I connect a child’s parents with a developmental optometrist and they uncover a hidden visual skill deficit, I consider that a memorable therapeutic moment.  However, my most memorable is the little boy who put on glasses for the first time at the age of 5 and said, “Hey, mommy, look at those pictures on the wall!”  His mommy cried because he’d walked down that hospital hallway many, many times in his young life and had never even seen them before.  Priceless."

Now into her sixth year of publishing, Handwriting With Katherine continues to provide teachers, parents and therapists with easy to use tips, from Pre K to Older Students.  Hop on over now to Handwriting with Katherine to discover what the three handwriting performance areas that simply need to be taught and reinforced right from the start.  And if you want to discover more about Katherine, just “Send me a note!”.   You can also check out her newest adventure Go-To-For-OT on which she pairs up with #therabloggers Stacy Turke, Marie Toole, and Molly Shannon as they share insights on pediatric development and the most frequently asked questions from parents and teachers.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

September SpOT Light Series: Miss Jaime OT

Jaime Spencer, better known as Miss Jaime OT, holds a multitude of certificates: a Bachelor's Degree in Occupational Therapy, a Master's in Special Education, a Certificate in Advanced Professional Development for Assistive Technology Applications and she's a certified Handwriting Specialist. Combine all of that that with 15 years of experience and a love of crafts, and you get Miss Jaime's unique perspective on school based therapy services.
Spot light image
miss jaime OT logo helping parents to help their kids

"One of my favorite parts of being an OT is teaching parents and teachers easy tricks to help their students.  As a district Occupational Therapist, I often send out informational emails and handouts to the staff that I work with.   I have always loved hearing “ I never knew that!” or “what a great tip!”.   So many teachers have said to me, “You should write a book!”.  So I started blogging!" Her Ask an OT posts cover a wide variety of reader questions from desensitization to improving grasp patterns.

One of Miss Jaime's Top Back to School Tip is for teachers and parents is to Draw Faces on the students’ pencils to remind them where to put their fingers.  "It’s cheaper than a pencil grip, the kids think it’s funny, and it provides a visual reminder for them to hold their pencils correctly. " I also love her suggestion of putty google eyes on scissor handles to help encourage thumb up position.
Looking back at her premier year of blogging, Jaime recalls one of her favorites, Coping with Sensory Processing Dysfunction, in which a 17 year old guest blogger shared her story.  "She wrote a very personal post for me on her experience as a person with Sensory Processing Dysfunction. I think she did a wonderful job! "

Miss Jaime worked for ten years in a sensory gym for preschool aged children and one her most memorable therapeutic moment comes from sensory based treatment. She was working with a child with Autism who had significant sensory issues; he had arrived at OT one day very over-stimulated and anxious.

 "He was nonverbal at the time.  We did a lot of sensory input, ending with a massage.  He seemed a little more calmed but I put him in between two mats and applied  pressure.  I didn’t speak the entire session, had the lights off and very low music on.  I applied the pressure to the mats for about five minutes.  When I took the top mat off,  he looked up at me with tears streaming down his face.  At first I was shocked and upset, thinking he must have been scared.  But then, he gave me the biggest grin.  He must have needed the sensory input in order to feel regulated and was finally able to “release” that anxiety and  overstimulation. It’s like they say, “sometimes you just need a good cry”. 

Though only a year on the therablogging scene, Miss Jaime OT seems to have found her niche for helping parents, teachers and therapists to improve a child's school experience. If you want to learn more about Miss Jaime OT, or have a question for her Ask an OT section, email her at

Friday, September 11, 2015

September SpOT Light Series: The Pocket OT

I'm sure when Occupational Therapist Cara Koscinski began practicing over 18 years ago,  she did not think she would be a successful mom-trepreneur, public speaker, blogger, and the 2015 Parent's Choice Award winner.  But then of course, who would?

Cara Koscinski MOT headshot
Cara's experience runs the gamut, from heart/lung transplant hospital to rehab and hand therapy as well as pediatrics.   But it is her personal experiences raising her two children with special needs that inspires much of her work.  

"They attended hundreds of hours of therapy.  I felt as though I was on a ‘Level 3’ Fieldwork as I watched and learned from some amazing OTs!  I took the good and left the bad to begin my own pediatric private practice.  I specialize in autism, posture, and SPD.  It’s the best when I go to a training that benefits my own sons and my clients!  I’d go to EVERY training out there if I could afford to."
The Pocket OT logo
Searching for connections with therapists and other parents dealing with similar issues, Cara began The Pocket OT in 2005.  Originally it was entitled Route2Greatness because her son was fascinated by roads; he could name them all.  But as her blog evolved into what it is today, she changed the name to The Pocket OT to better suit Cara's quick-reference intentions.  

One of her favorite posts hits close to home.  7 Tips for Fear of Loud Noises  highlights the need for patience when working on desensitization.  "So many children are fearful of loud and un-expected noises at school. My own son could not complete his classroom work for weeks after the school year began as he was afraid that the fire alarm would sound.  My sister’s a music therapist and together, we invented a way to help him."  Sound-Eaze and School-Eaze are available for download from her site as well as sold in special needs catalogues.

Now writing content for 10 years, Cara has also expanded her passion for sharing information into two books, The Pocket Occupational Therapist” and “The Special Needs SCHOOL Survival Guide," both of which were Family Choice Awards winners  She also has two new books coming this fall:  the first is ‘The Weighted Blanket Sensation” and the other is a children’s book called, “Joshua’s Mighty Mitochondrial Disease."
When asked about a memorable therapeutic moment, Cara shared about how goofiness helped to finally break the ice with a teenage client who hated going to OT.   "He spent seven sessions sitting in my clinic- refusing to speak to me……One session, I went through his entire home exercise program making up silly words; we both started laughing.  After he decided I wasn’t so bad, he ended up meeting ALL of his goals!  I hope he’s doing well!"

Not only can you find her working, writing, managing social media and email (, posting products on Teachers Pay Teachers, this month you can see her in person. Cara will be speaking after Temple Grandin at the Future Horizons Dallas Autism Super Conference this month. Luckily for followers, The Pocket OT is pocket-full of energy, insight and inspiration.